A Dying Man’s Last Request

My biological father (I’ll call him “RP” for the remainder of this post) was an avid golfer. He always dreamed of playing the Pebble Beach Golf Course. He and another man wanted to play the course together, so they began to pool their savings in a big 5-gallon bottle kept at the other man’s house. When the bottle was full and they could afford to go, his “friend” took all the money and spent it.

RP, who lived on the East Coast, never got to fulfill his dream.

He died a few years ago. His wife told me after he had passed that his last request was that I would scatter his ashes on the Pebble Beach Golf Course.

GULP! Something that you may not know about me is that I tend to be a Rule Follower, and if I don’t like someone else’s rules I tend to change games—which is one reason I’m self employed (my game, my rules)—but this request definitely fit into the Rule Breaker side of things. I figured that if I fulfilled RP’s last request I would certainly be breaking several rules and most likely several laws.

I was torn. Badly.

Ultimately, blood proved thicker than mere rules and laws (and I have probably never in my life used the word “mere” in front of either of the words “rules” and “laws”).

I discussed my dilemma with my Beloved. She was no happier or comfortable with the request than I, and probably much less so, but she offered to come along to offer moral support. We both knew there was a chance that I would be caught and arrested, and if she was with me she could suffer a similar fate, but she wanted to come anyway, and woe be to the person who tries to tell her “no” when she sets her mind to something.

When the day came, we drove to Pebble Beach, becoming more anxious with each mile closer we’d gotten, too nervous to even enjoy the fantastic views on the way there.

We noted with growing concern that security vehicles and guards were everywhere. It’s like they had their own private army.

We scoped the perimeter like a couple on a secret mission. Actually, we were a couple on a secret mission. Piercing the perimeter looked like a really BAD idea.

Our nerves were on edge but we also noticed that along with the risk and “danger” an element of excitement and adventure began to creep in.

The theme song from the original Mission Impossible TV show kept running through my head. Seriously.

Beloved put the clay urn full of ashes in her purse as we parked our car. We walked through the magnificent clubhouse with its main room that is so large that it has two HUGE and very impressive fireplaces.
The view was magnificent! We walked out the back of the clubhouse, across a patio with diners, down some steps and onto a large lawn area that led out to stone edge which looked marked the end of the lawn and the beginning of a small beach several feet below and the Monterey Bay. The golf course’s 18th hole was to our left and near the stone wall. I don’t recall what separated the course from the lawn near the stone edge but it wasn’t much of an obstacle. Perhaps a rope.

We had much bigger obstacles to deal with. First, parties of golfers were very often either on the green making their final putts or on their way to it. I couldn’t just waltz onto it and start spreading ashes all over it.

But the bigger obstacle was that a security guard must have decided that we looked suspicious and began following us onto the long beautiful green lawn that gently sloped down toward the Bay.

Our hearts raced as we looked at each other, wondering what to do. We’d come too far to turn back now. In a whisper I suggested that we sit on the on the edge of the lawn at the rock edge right up against the 18th hole, and try to look like sight-seers.

The security guard hung back and off to our right about 20-25 feet and appeared to be cleaning his nails. Yeah, right!

I decided to lay down parallel to the golf course and up against it with my back facing the guard. Beloved took out her camera and pretended to take pictures, gradually moving her body into a position that would perfectly obstruct the guard’s view. She reached into her purse and handed the urn to me. I placed it in front of me and covered it with a jacket.

But it became obvious that there was no way I was going to be able to walk onto the green without immediately drawing attention to myself, being stopped, and possibly arrested.

We did catch a lucky break in that a strong wind was blowing inland from the Bay, so if I could time the space between the golf parties just right, and if I could throw the ashes into the wind without being seen by golfers on the course, people in the clubhouse, diners on the patio, and the ever-present and attentive guard, the ashes would float onto the 18th green.

There were too many “IF’s” for my taste, but it was the hand we’d been dealt so we’d try to play it.

The whole urn and ashes thing had kind of creeped me out, so I hadn’t opened the lid of the clay urn since it had been handed to me on the East Coast.

That proved to be a BIG mistake!

When I think of ashes, I think of those soft floaty things that that gently float up from a campfire. So, when I reached into the urn I expected to feel kind of a soft, light powder.

My eyes must have gotten huge when what I felt bore no semblance to anything even remotely resembling ashes!
It felt like a nearly solid mass with a consistency that was closer to sandstone than ashes. (It should be noted here that I tried to be as respectful as possible through the whole process as I was aware that what I was touching was the last physical remains of the man who was one of two humans responsible for bringing me into this world, and that his remains should be treated with respect.)

Still, I was freaked out. It might have even been funny under other circumstances but at the moment laughter was about the furthest thing from my mind as I felt a surge of panic.

I groaned, then whispered the latest problem to my Beloved. She gave a startled expression followed by a shrug and a, “Well I guess you’re just going to have to deal with it” look that I knew so well.

But it was Beloved who came up with the next tactic, whispering “I’ll distract the guard” as she picked up the camera and walked away.

I looked over my shoulder following her with my eyes and watching the guard out of my peripheral vision as I began feverishly scraping the contents of the urn with my fingernails, trying to loosen it all.

I waited for that hoped-for critical moment when everything aligned perfectly: The 18th green had no one on or near it, the guard was facing away, and the wind was gusting in from the Bay. I just had to hope that no one else walked onto the lawn and that everyone else was too far away to notice what I was up to.

The seconds turned to minutes, dragging on interminably, while I continued scraping the contents of the urn and Beloved walking to the other side of the lawn, pretending to take photos of the gorgeous scenery.

The guard had the choice of watching Beloved to his right, turning his back on me, or vice versa. He chose her. GOOD CHOICE!

Just then the 18th green was clear, and I slowly and nonchalantly stretched my right arm high over onto the golf course as if I was stretching contentedly without a care in the world. As I did so I opened my hand and flickes the contents with my fingers. To my great relief and with substantial help from the wind they scattered over the 18th green. I did this a few more times, never knowing if the next toss would end with my arrest, but lucking out every time.

I signaled to my beloved when I was done, and we reversed the process, getting everything back into her purse.

As I stood up I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

The two successful secret agents soaked in our success, and even took a victory lap of sorts. We walked into the clubhouse and sat in some beautiful chairs. I ordered RP’s favorite drink, a Dirty Vodka Martini on the rocks, and Beloved ordered a glass of champagne.

We toasted to RP.

Then we toasted to what we’d accomplished together.

I don’t recall ever having a drink that I enjoyed more.

About russtowne

I'm awed by the beauty of nature and the power of love and gratitude. Some of my favorite sensory experiences include waves crashing on rocky shores, waterways in ancient redwood and fern-filled forests, and rain. My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren. I manage a wealth management firm that I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of approximately 60 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children.
This entry was posted in Choices, Courage, Creativity, Family "Fun", Humor, True Stories I've Written and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to A Dying Man’s Last Request

  1. boomiebol says:

    I couldn’t stop reading this, glad you guys pulled it off.

    • russtowne says:

      It is certainly lonnger than I prefer, but I hoped that readers would hang in there until the end despite its length. Thank you for doing so, Boomie–and for your comment.


      • boomiebol says:

        I enjoyed reading it…and kept trying to imagine you and your beloved doing the whole secret mission thing on a golf course with mission impossible song playing :), hoping nothing will go wrong.

  2. russtowne says:

    LOL! Thank you, Boomie! We were kinda hoping that nothing would go wrong too! ;-D!


  3. Cathy Ulrich says:

    Great story, Russ. RP is still laughing about this one! You and Beloved were great (and sneaky!) and right up there in my book! – Cathy

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you, Cathy. Yes, I figured that RP had a good time with it. Kind of Lonesome Dove-esque where near the end a quite unusual and arduous request was made by one of the two partners just before he died.   Russ


  4. I had to chuckle at your bravery, along with Beloved. I am glad that your mission was accomplished without any delays.

  5. russtowne says:

    Thank you, Kimberly. I think I’ll leave secret agenting to the professionals!


  6. Gina's Professions for PEACE says:

    Your writing of this story in your history is amazing! I enjoyed every word. You are a talented writer and I thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story about RP and what you both did for him. Very inspiring (and entertaining too!). Cheers, Gina

  7. russtowne says:

    Thank you, Gina! You’re up late! It is always good to hear from you know matter what time it is! Fireworks and firecrackers are still going off where we live. I can see a bunch of them from my office window as I type. Mostly bottle rockets with some bigger stuff. I wish you a peaceful night!

  8. mindfuldiary says:

    Russ, you obviously have talent. Interesting and very well written story. Keep the reader on their toes. ;D Wonderful, that you were able to fulfill your father’s last will.

  9. Wonderfully written. And I must say, this sounds similar to some situations hubby & I have gotten in to rather “unwillingly”. The difference being I love the rule breaking challenge! 😉 RIP ~ RP ♥ and cheers ~

  10. What a remarkable and lovely story. What a request he made of you. I wonder if he was a humorous man and pictured you trying to fulfill his wishes? Diane

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you, Diane. I don’t picture him as a humorous man. He mostly seemed sad to me. I’m glad that I was able to help “him” to finally get to Pebble Beach.

  11. Then if he was humorous…how much more serious than could he be to take the time to put that request in writing. You were very kind to do that for him especially considering what you had to go through. How sad that his savings were in effect ‘stolen’ as was his original dream. Pebble Beach must be a ‘haven’ for many avid golfers as my son-in-law is going to go in the fall for two days. (We’re the ‘kid’ sitters while he and my daughter go) …..Diane

  12. I meant of course to say ..wasn’t humorous…one of those things you see right after clicking the key…lol Diane

  13. russtowne says:

    Hi, Diane. I know all too well how it feels to see an error right after sending a comment or a post. ARGGGHH! No worries. It just proves that you are human! I hope your son-in-law and daughter have a great time at Pebble Beach, and that you have a fun time kidsitting!

  14. JanBeek says:

    And now you can expect a knock at the door any moment as the Pebble Beach authorities have read your wonderful story and decided to prosecute two WordPress intruders – just to be sure no one else gets the bright idea to pull off a stunt like this. I mean, after all, what would Pebble Beach look like if the greens were all covered in ash? You rascal, you!!

  15. russtowne says:

    LOL! I don’t get called a “Rascal” very often. I kinda like the sound of it!

    When I was writing the post I actually wondered if there is a Statute of Limitations on throwing ashes on golf greens! :-D!


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